Saturday, December 22, 2007

Dec 22, 2007 - 800 year old ship salvaged

Dec 22, 2007
Beijing salvages ship that sank 800 years ago

BEIJING - GOVERNMENT salvagers raised a merchant boat yesterday that sank some 800 years ago off the south China coast loaded with exquisite porcelain.
The salvage operation, which took place one day earlier than planned, kicked off at 9am when a huge crane began lifting a steel basket containing the 30m-long vessel, dubbed the Nanhai No. 1, or South China Sea No. 1.

Two hours later, the wooden wreck, which was some 30m below water, breached the surface and was moved onto a waiting barge.

To protect the relics and ship, archaeologists launched a 150 million yuan (S$29 million) operation in early May to wrap the wreck with its surrounding silt intact in a huge steel basket as large as a basketball court and as tall as a three-storey building.

The steel basket, together with the vessel, weighed more than 3,000 tonnes.

'Submerged in the sea, the boat has become very fragile,' said Mr Wu Jiancheng, head of the world's first project of salvaging a sunken historical ship in one complete piece with its cargo and silt.

Local officials originally planned to hoist the boat today but changed their minds due to favourable weather conditions yesterday.

The boat will be placed in a glass pool at a specially built museum, named the 'crystal palace', where the water temperature, pressure and other environmental conditions are the same as where the ship was on the sea bed.

Discovered in 1987 off the coast near Yangjiang city, in southern China's Guangdong province, the vessel dates from the early Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279).

XINHUA

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